Gov. Matt Bevin to meet with Louisville pastors about curbing vi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Matt Bevin to meet with Louisville pastors about curbing violence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Matt Bevin plans to meet with faith leaders Thursday morning in Louisville to discuss ways to curb the growing violence in the state’s urban areas.

“I think what's important is the fact that the governor is willing to come and open a dialogue,” said Bishop Michael Ford, pastor of Christ Temple Christian Life Center and head of Kentucky Pastors in Action.

Ford’s church is in the Shawnee neighborhood, which has been hard hit by violence. He plans to attend Bevin's meeting at Western Middle School.

“We're mainly going to listen to what he has to say, but we have some specific strategies that we think will impact this issue,” Ford said.

Bevin said any plan to curb the violence in Kentucky's urban areas must include faith leaders.

“We have more than just a single issue there. It is a cultural problem. It is a spiritual problem,” Bevin said during a news conference Friday.

Some, however, are not happy with Bevin's approach.

“It's degrading us as faith leaders, as though we haven't been doing our work,” said Pastor Vincent James, who's pastor of Elim Baptist Church, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition and the faith liaison for Louisville's Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

James plans to tell Bevin what local churches are already doing to stop the violence.

“Pastors are touching lives and preventing violent acts, preventing all kinds of things, giving people hope,” he said.

James is working on a database designed to connect churches to each other and to the city's anti-violence efforts.

“We'll be able to know exactly what's going on in the community -- a better, more effective way to be able to engage faith leaders,” James said.

But Pastor Jerry Stephenson said with violence rising, more must be done.

“We're supposed to be light of the world, the salt of the earth," said Stephenson, pastor of the Midwest Church of Christ. "Maybe we're not salting very well."

Stephenson said he and other members of the Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition are willing to work with Bevin to find answers.

“We haven't done our job," he said. "And I think what this governor is saying to us, ‘It's time for you to do your job.’”

The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and is scheduled to last one hour. In a Facebook post, Bevin invited all local faith leaders, but the meeting is closed to the media.

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